Identity Formation in Nonviolent Struggles

book cover

I’m happy to share that I had the opportunity to contribute a chapter on “Identity Formation in Nonviolent Struggle” to a new book edited by Maciej BartkowskiRecovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles. (Lynne Rienner Publishers)

My chapter serves as a theoretical primer on the social movement literature on collective identities and the under-explored connections with strategic action.  My fellow contributors cover a range of global, and often forgotten, cases of nonviolent liberation struggles where national identities have played important roles.  Here is what I’ve written about my chapter:

As other chapters in this volume illustrate, nonviolent resistance has often played an important role in nationalist movements for independence. These cases offer important opportunities to study the power potentials of strategic nonviolent action, and the prominence of nationalism in them compels us to ask how identity and tactical choice influence one another. This chapter draws on the sociological study of social movements to theorize ways of thinking about relationships between the nonviolent tactics that many nationalist movements have employed in conflict and their collective national identities. The relationships are probably much closer and more important than either sociologists or scholars of nonviolent resistance have realized. Identities can be publicly displayed for strategic ends. Tactical repertoires, including nonviolent ones, reflect collective identities or resisters’ cultural predispositions. Conversely, choosing certain tactics can influence the construction of collective identities as people adapt their national identity to incorporate new tactical rationales and justifications.

Here is the book description:

This unique book brings to light the little-known, but powerful roles that civil resistance has played in national liberation struggles throughout history. Ranging from the American Revolution to Kosovo in the 1990s, from Egypt under colonial rule to present-day West Papua and Palestine, the authors of Recovering Nonviolent History consider several key questions: What kinds of civilian-based nonviolent strategy and tactics have been used in liberation struggles? What accounts for their successes and failures? Not least, how did nonviolent resistance influence national identities and socioeconomic and political institutions both prior to and after liberation, and why has this history been so often ignored? The story that emerges is a compelling one of the agency of thousands and even millions of ordinary people as they used nonviolent force in the course of struggles against foreign subjugation.

For those interested in exploring the intersection of nationalism and nonviolence further, you might be interested in exploring Manfred Steger’s book, Gandhi’s Dilemma: Nonviolent Principles and Nationalist Power in which Steger examines the tension between Gandhi’s deployment of Indian nationalism and his universal philosophy of nonviolence.

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First maps for the Mural Mapping Project

I’m pleased to announce that we are beginning to generate the first maps from the Mural Mapping Project. Josh Satre ’13, a Swarthmore College student, has given the project a boost by using results from the second survey (2009-2010) in developing a class project this semester.  We will build on this preliminary work in developing a first conference paper that we hope to submit for presentation in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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What sociology fancies

I’m working on some comments for the beginning of the course I am co-teaching titled “Exemplary Studies in Sociology and Anthropology.” Here’s a quick word cloud from wordle.net that depicts the words in the names of the sections of the American Sociological Association.

Wordle: Sections of the American Sociological Association

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Third Mural Mapping survey complete

The third survey of the Mural Mapping project is complete! After many days of walking, biking, skateboarding, and driving, I finished the final clean-up phase last night (picking up any pieces that were missed and documenting walls or sites where art no longer exists).

You can review the ground that was covered at the project website at http://muralmap.swarthmore.edu and I am pasting a photo of the master paper map below.

I want to take a moment to thank all the folks in West Belfast and the greater Shankill Road area whom I met along the way, such as the lads in the garden of remembrance in Suffolk, the ladies in the garden in Turf Lodge, Connor in Dunmurry and David in Ballymurphy (to mention a few). Your guidance and welcome were much appreciated.

Special thanks to all those who took the time to speak with us in detail about mural making and public art in Northern Ireland. Your experience is invaluable for understanding the role that community arts play in everyday life, community development, conflict transformation, politics, and community relations.

The support of Swarthmore College, the Institute of Irish Studies at Queens University, and the Irish School of Ecumenics made the professional end of our seven-month stay possible, and for that we are immensely grateful.

As always, my family and I return to the U.S. looking forward to our next trip back to Northern Ireland. For now, with three surveys in the can, I will (with my research partner, Greg Maney) return to the task of building the database and beginning the qualitative,  longitudinal, and spatial analysis for which the project was designed.

We look forward to sharing results with many of you in the coming months and years!

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Third Mural Mapping survey complete

The third survey of the Mural Mapping project is complete! After many days of walking, biking, skateboarding, and driving, I finished the final clean-up phase last night (picking up any pieces that were missed and documenting walls or sites where art no longer exists).

You can review the ground that was covered at the project website at http://muralmap.swarthmore.edu and I am pasting a photo of the master paper map below.

I want to take a moment to thank all the folks in West Belfast and the greater Shankill Road area whom I met along the way, such as the lads in the garden of remembrance in Suffolk, the ladies in the garden in Turf Lodge, Connor in Dunmurry and David in Ballymurphy (to mention a few). Your guidance and welcome were much appreciated.

Special thanks to all those who took the time to speak with us in detail about mural making and public art in Northern Ireland. Your experience is invaluable for understanding the role that community arts play in everyday life, community development, conflict transformation, politics, and community relations.

The support of Swarthmore College, the Institute of Irish Studies at Queens University, and the Irish School of Ecumenics made the professional end of our seven-month stay possible, and for that we are immensely grateful.

As always, my family and I return to the U.S. looking forward to our next trip back to Northern Ireland. For now, with three surveys in the can, I will (with my research partner, Greg Maney) return to the task of building the database and beginning the qualitative,  longitudinal, and spatial analysis for which the project was designed.

We look forward to sharing results with many of you in the coming months and years!

image

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Mural Mapping website launch

Mural Mapping websiteI’m happy to announce that we are launching the Mural Mapping Project website today at http://muralmap.swarthmore.edu This will become the home for information about the project, updates, information about publications and presentations, and any other events or products of the research.

You can follow the #muralmap hashtag on Twitter to keep up with announcements and related tweets. All tweets with the #muralmap hashtag are also being archived at http://bit.ly/muralmaptweets

The third survey of murals and other forms of public art in the Greater Shankill area and West Belfast is currently underway, and you can follow it online at the new website.

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Mural Mapping underway (third survey)

Over three and a half years ago, Greg Maney (Hofstra University) and I began working on the Mural Mapping Project. Every other year, we are using cameras and GPS technology to document and locate all instances of murals, sculpture, memorial gardens, and other forms of public art in West Belfast and the Greater Shankill Road area.

You can read about the Mural Mapping Project via these URLs:

http://bit.ly/murals_swat_bulletin
http://bit.ly/wallstalk

I’ve begun our third survey. With the kind loan of a skateboard from Stu Mullan and some new gear for it from my neighbor Dave Fairman and Fairman’s skate shop, I’ve got wheels.

Over the past few days, I’ve been covering the Shankill Road area.  Many thanks to the kind folks in the area who I’ve met on the streets over the past few days!

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